5 Reasons to Buy Wool Bedding
So you may have heard of wool bedding before, but what's all the fuss really about and what makes it so different to polyester, feather or down bedding? There are literally hundreds of reasons why wool is taking over as the nation's favourite and we could spend hours telling you about them (call 01780 461 217 if you want to hear us wax lyrical), but we thought we'd sum up our top 5 benefits of wool duvets, pillows and more.
25% Better Sleep
That's right, it's even scientifically proven! In fact, to add to this proof, The Wool Room's bedding is currently the subject of further sleep studies, so watch this space! So how can our wool bedding improve your sleep by 25% and what does this really mean?
Well firstly, there are 5 stages of sleep;
- Stage 1 - A dreamy light stage of sleep when we can be woken easily by a noise or movement. Usually lasts 5-10 minutes
- Stage 2 - Slightly deeper, your body temperature begins to fall and heart rate begins to slow down. Lasts around 20 minutes.
- Stage 3 - This is the transition between light and deep sleep and our brain waves slow down.
- Stage 4 - Deep sleep which will last about 30 minutes and return us to stage 3 and back again in a cycle that leads to stage 5 sleep. In this stage our body is thought to do the most repair and regeneration of cells.
- Stage 5 - This is known as REM sleep which we usually reach about 90 minutes after falling asleep. Increased brain activity leads to dreams and decreased physical activity protect you from acting out your dreams. The amount of stage 5 sleep that is possible reduces with age, babies will spend half of their time asleep in stage 5 sleep!
We go through these stages in a cycle all night long. However decreased comfort due to external factors can interrupt this cycle and wake you up. Scientific studies have shown that sleeping with wool bedding helps you gain 25% more deep regenerative sleep when compared to other bedding types, this means more stage 4 and 5 sleep which is important for health and cell regeneration, as well as an overall feeling of being well rested in the morning. In fact, this is one of the main benefits of wool duvets.
Of course, you have to 'sleep it to believe it' – read our wool bedding and wool duvet reviews to see how our customers feel about their switch to wool bedding.
To show the benefits of wool duvets over other alternatives, here are some of the results of tests comparing wool and synthetic bedding...
You'll notice that we don't give our wool duvets a set tog rating, and we have a very good reason not to! Tog ratings were invented in the 1940s along with man-made fabrics and fibres as a measure of thermal resistance. Synthetics will provide a specific thermal value, one layer of polyester will insulate to x, two layers will insulate 2x, three layers 3x, etc... Today we associate tog with bedding and commonly assume all bedding should have a tog rating. However, wool fibres are far too clever for one single warmth rating when it comes to insulation. They evolved to keep sheep cool when it's hot and warm when it's not so that they don't just get hotter and hotter as their wool grows thicker and thicker. Wool fibres are naturally adapted to keeping you at a steady temperature - a perfect adaptation to take advantage of for our bedding!
When you're cold the wool fibres trap air creating an insulating layer but when you begin to perspire wool helps you cool down by drawing moisture away from your skin helping you cool naturally. Feather, down and synthetic tend to trap this warm moisture creating a humid environment which in turn causes your body temperature to rise further! If we try to tog rate wool we find that the tog value will vary depending on temperature which gives us a range rather than a specific tog value, so on all of our duvets you'll see an approximate tog range. The warmer you get in bed the more the duvet will insulate at the lower end of this range and the colder you get the more it will insulate at the higher end of the range - it's the ideal way to keep a steady temperature for a peaceful night's rest!
At The Wool Room we understand better than anyone else that we humans aren't all clones! What is right for one person won't necessarily suit the next; some people are warm sleepers, some are cold sleepers, some freeze in winter and boil in summer and some are a happy medium! We have the biggest range of wool duvets available online and in-store in the whole world! Ranging from super-cool to super warm! We've detailed our approximate tog ratings below to help you pick a suitable wool or wool and alpaca duvet...
One of the biggest problems couples have when sharing a bed is the nightly fight over the warmth of the duvet! What do you do if one of you is a cold sleeper and one of you is a warm sleeper? What a nightmare! However with our wool bedding, you'll be sleeping like babies in no time and the bedtime arguments will be a thing of the past! Wool manages the micro-climate directly next to it, so your warm sleeper will be kept at the cooler end of the tog range and vice-versa.
While quite a few other websites claim to have a machine washable wool bedding, ours is the only truly 100% machine washable British wool bedding in the UK. We invented the wool treatment and quilting design that allows wool to be properly machine washed which took about 10 years to perfect. Usually when you wash wool; the moisture, heat and agitation cause the wool to felt. Wool felts due to its fibre structure, there are tiny microscopic hooks or 'scales' on the surface of the fibres that lock together binding the wool fibres tighter. This is very useful for making lovely thick wool felt, but not so good when it comes to clothing and bedding. We'll all have experienced the shock of pulling our laundry out of the machine and finding a thick child's size jumper which resembles a full adult size jumper we own, oops! Here's how felting happens...
It is impossible to make a wool product machine washable without using some form of treatment on the fibre. Please be wary of anyone who says their wool is washable and 100% untreated as it may be fine for the first wash but from the second wash onwards the fibres will start to felt and clump.
All items in our deluxe range are machine washable). Many people ask us if we use chemicals on our wool to make it washable, in short, yes we do.
So how does our machine washing treatment work for our deluxe range? Well this type of treatment is designed to remove a few of these outer scales on the fibres so they have less chance of hooking onto each other and felting. We do not 'stick' the scales down and we do not 'burn' the outer cuticle of the wool fibre away. Instead we use a small amount of chlorine to remove the outer scales of the wool fibre and then we apply a small amount of silicon resin to the surface of the fibre to ensure that our wool fibres, when agitated (washed), will glide over each other.
Our process does not harm the wool fibres or stop them from working the way they should. In fact, scientific testing has shown us that removing a number of these outer scales actually improves the wool fibres' ability to thermoregulate, absorb moisture and absorb VOCs.
Please be assured that we always double wash our wool after undertaking this process and remove all traces of any chlorine ensuring that our wool achieves Oekotex Class 100 standard for safety. Woolroom is passionate about the environment and we ensure that we tightly control the treatment of all waste water from this process.
We now sell our very own Wool Room branded wool bedding detergent for use with our Deluxe range of bedding..
So how often do you really need to wash your wool bedding? The answer is not often at all, in fact, putting your wool bedding in the wash is purely for cosmetic reasons, so that you have nice clean cotton. This may surprise many of you who are new to wool bedding, but wool bedding is naturally very hygienic and self-cleaning! Wool fibres can absorb 30% of their weight in moisture, which is an amazing capability. However, when warmth and humidity are not present, wool fibres like to release any trapped moisture into the air - this clever system keeps sheep dry and healthy. We take advantage of this breathability in many ways, but a little known benefit is that wool stays naturally clean. As the wool fibres like to stay so dry they do not provide an ideal environment for fungus, mould or bacteria, unlike synthetic, feather and down bedding which provide fantastic environments for micro-organisms. So while we're all very used to machine washing our clothing and bedding, there is an alternative, and it's much better for the environment too, simply take your wool bedding, blankets and throws outside on a dry, breezy day and any dry dust or dirt can simply fall out.
First of all, what does 'hypoallergenic' actually mean? The Oxford dictionary quotes: "relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction." 'Anti-allergy' or 'anti-allergenic' are terms thrown about a lot by marketing campaigns, however these expressions are completely nonsensical, as nothing can be guaranteed to cause no allergic reaction in any way. So what we're trying to say is that 'hypoallergenic' is the right word, and it's the best you can get when fighting allergies.
There is a myth going around that wool is a common allergen. Nothing could be further from the truth! People who have a genuine allergy relating to wool are actually allergic to lanolin, the oil found in wool which is washed out of most woollen products to go into hand creams, lip balms and moisturisers. So if you have a bad allergic reaction to many cosmetics and creams, you are sensitive to lanolin. An allergy to lanolin is always a skin reaction. Wool and lanolin will never cause any type of respiratory allergy. Wool is actually naturally hypoallergenic! The lanolin found in wool is a very expensive commodity, it's true some people can be allergic to this oily substance, but for everyone else it's a fantastic natural ingredient in your favourite moisturisers, lip-balms and makeup. For this reason, you'll find that woollen garments retain very little lanolin, if any at all! Our bedding is lanolin-free do to our cleaning process.
Now, on to the actual wool fibres, how are they so hypoallergenic? Well wool fibres have evolved over centuries to keep sheep in tip-top health, no matter what the weather may throw at them. Sheep are exceptionally hardy animals and can live outdoors year round - this is partly thanks to their wool. Wool fibres have an amazing quality - they absorb and desorb moisture whenever necessary to keep the sheep dry and healthy. The dry environment created by the wool fibres inhibits bacteria, fungus and dust mites, amongst other things!
We suspect that most people who think they're allergic to wool have experienced a skin irritation in the past. The most common of which would be to low quality, cheap wool jumpers, scarves and gloves that will have traumatised many of us as children. The truth is that coarse, cheap wool, which was used in these products, can irritate delicate skin. Today it is better understood that we have many types of wool available, and the finer wools should be used in products next to the skin, whereas coarser wools should be used in hard-wearing carpets and insulation. Use the right wool for the right product and you'll have no problems at all.
Our rant about DUST MITES ALLERGIES and ASTHMA!
(As written by a wool expert with a severe dust mite allergy and asthma since birth)
This is a big topic when talking about wool's hypoallergenic qualities, so we're going to take some time to help you understand why wool is so great for people with dust mite allergies and asthma, and we'll also put to rest the myths about wool that, even some medical professionals, have gotten wrong.
Yes, there was a scientific study that showed dust mites live in wool. This was back in the 1970s and you'll find that most doctors and nurses will be able to recall this as the only information they know about dust mites.
The study took place on a tropical island in <80% humidity and temperatures of around 40°C. The study participants were given woollen blankets and the results showed that the dust mites did thrive in this environment. However, it is only under extremely high temperatures and humidity that this can occur in wool - don't be fooled, the dust mites would have made a happy home in any material under these conditions. However when it comes to typical UK temperatures, dust mites simply can't survive in wool. Without getting too graphic, dust mites need a warm, humid environment for their food source to grow - wool is simply too dry. Dust mites do not eat wool or dust, they also don't drink, making the humid environment all the more essential. If you'd like further clarification we're happy to explain exactly what dust mites are eating - just get in touch. Sadly if you google ‘dust mites and wool', you'll get a mixture of results, some encouraging those with a dust mite allergy to try wool, others advising that people with asthma and dust mite allergy to get rid of all of their wool. There is plenty of misinformation out there caused by this one study which is flawed and out-dated, we're working hard to get you the modern-day, accurate results to put this myth to bed, once and for all!
So what materials are ideal for dust mites if not wool? Sadly dust mites are a fact of life, even though we can't see them, they will be anywhere we are. Dust mites are particularly at home in synthetics and even more so in feather and down products. As our specialist area is bedding, we are experts when it comes to dust mites, and sadly the bed is the dust mites favourite place to be! Typically our beds are ideal for dust mites; if your mattress and bedding are synthetic, feather or down you will be surrounded by these relatively harmless creatures. It's actually a protein that dust mites produce that causes the allergic reaction in many of us. This allergy is mostly respiratory in nature with wheezing, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and itchy skin all being common reactions. Dust mites are certainly not 'bed bugs' which are entirely different, bed bugs are parasitic and far less common but very problematic in their own way and are not related to dust mites.
So lack of dust mites is great news for your average asthmatic, who tends to be more prone to this particular allergy. The other great myth keeping asthmatics away from wool is that wool fibres are brittle, break off easily and can be inhaled into the lungs where they act as an irritant. While it is true that inhaling tiny particles is a problem for asthmatics, the likelihood of wool particles being inhaled is very low indeed! In fact, when it comes to bedding your far more likely to inhale dust from feather and down products which is both finer and lighter. Wool fibres are very complexed, hefty things when you look at them under a microscope and studies have shown that they are far less airborne than just about everything else. People who worry about 'dust particles created by wool' should be far more concerned by feather, down, pollution, VOCs, pollen, mould spores and about thousands of other particulates that can affect your average asthmatic! If anything wool is a safe bet! Which brings us onto our next benefit of wool for asthmatics as well as the rest of the population...
Wool has an amazing, unparalleled ability to absorb harmful VOCs and keep them trapped away in the structure of the fibre! VOCs (volatile organic compounds) can be found in all sorts of things such as; car exhausts, paints, glues, varnishes and cleaning products. These can be carcinogenic and obviously troublesome to those with asthma and allergies. This recently discovered wool feature is just another great reason to choose wool for your home, we've written an extensive page about wool and VOCs, to explain all the technical details.
Our final point is one that is close to our hearts. Did you know that The Wool Room was created by a family business who've been in the wool industry since 1888? We have historical connections with the wool industry all over the world, we know sheep farmers, we have been the sheep farmers and we'll continue to support sheep farmers. As a nation we owe much of our success to wool, historically it was one of our most important exports. Here're a few great facts about British Wool.
Back when we started this business in 2008 there was a crisis in the world of wool. Not only had farmers endured years of bad luck with foot and mouth disease, but the wool s were also at a devastating low! Farmers we're receiving as little as 60 pence per fleece, 60 pence!! With the average cost to shear a sheep being around £1-2 per sheep - you can see the problem straight away! Farmers were losing massive amounts of money and the situation was getting more and more desperate each year! On top of the cost of shearing the farmers had to get their wool to the auction houses to sell - all in all many farmers decided to bury, burn or give away their wool at the farm to reduce the loss.
The Campaign for Wool was also started in 2008 by HRH Prince Charles, who has a passion for the countryside, farming and particularly wool. He could see that the UK's once thriving wool industry was on the verge of completely collapsing, something had to be done! The efforts of those involved in the Campaign for Wool have really had a huge impact on wool prices worldwide by educating manufacturers and the public on the benefits of choosing wool over synthetics. The Wool Room is continuously involved in the Campaign which actually has no staff, just a dedicated and growing team of people, like us, worldwide who want to make a difference! You can read all about the Campaign for Wool on their website.
British wool is simply brilliant for bedding, carpets and insulation. There are a few technical reasons why we only use British wool in our bedding, it's not all about local pride. Merino wool (generally sourced from Australia and New Zealand) is a very popular wool type indeed, and it carries certain connotations of 'luxury' in its name, it's not just 'wool', it's 'merino'.
Merino is widely considered the 'bees knees' when it comes to wool, and we agree that it's a fantastic fibre; it's super soft, very fine, dazzlingly white and nice and flat. These qualities make it perfect for clothing which has to lie close to the skin and feel super soft and smooth, for example a fine woollen suit or merino base layers for sports. However, when we think of the fine suit or merino sportswear, do we necessarily want such a fine, smooth and flat fibre in our bedding? Actually no, we like our bedding with a bit of volume! Merino duvets, pillows and toppers are available on the market, however they're flatter and heavier as the fine merino fibres don't have the bounce or bulk of British wools which are less flat and therefore trap more air. You need more merino pound for pound to produce the same insulating qualities that our lovely British wool will provide, so even with the best merino wool duvet, you're really paying for more expensive wool, more of it and importing it into the UK. When you see merino wool bedding products, it’s important to remember that this merino wool filling doesn’t deliver superior benefits when compared with British wool. ? We've tried it all and we can confirm that British wool makes the best bedding!
British sheep are happy sheep! We also love using British Wool because we know exactly where it comes from, we can pin-point our wool down to a collection of farms, mostly local to our head-office in the East Midlands. Sheep in the UK are very well cared for, we have some of the highest standards in the world. There are plenty of sensationalist reports of cruelty, especially in Australia, but let us reassure you with this one simple fact... Sheep are delicate and fussy animals, if they get stressed, sick or are treated badly the results show in their wool. The wool will be weak, patchy and of low quality. All over the world the price a farmer receives for his fleece is largely determined by the quality as well as the breed, staple length of the wool and colour - if bad quality wool comes in, the price goes down. Manufacturers can't use low quality wool, it's not good for much at all. It is in every sheep farmers best interest to have happy, healthy sheep so that they will receive a good price for the wool. And as our farmer at Wool Room HQ says, "To be a sheep farmer you really have to love your job, otherwise you just wouldn't do it!"
PS: Don't be fooled by sensationalist reports that shearing is cruel and sheep don't need to be shorn, take a look at poor old 'Big Ben', a sheep from New Zealand who evaded capture for 5 years resulting in a fleece weighing nearly 30kg! Shearing is necessary to keep sheep happy and healthy - otherwise the farmers simply wouldn't go through the expense involved. test